Super Ply & Friends Show

My Super Ply and Friends solo show is now on display at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon. It is a big, bold show and fills the display walls of the Fireside Gallery in the Student Union:  19 black and white Super Ply series paintings, plus four related paintings in color. This is the first time I have been able to hang so many of the black and white paintings together so I am thrilled to be able to invite you to stop in and see them.    

The Super Ply series is ongoing. So far it depicts individual characters, each reflecting a moment or feeling that came to me intuitively while I created that specific piece.  Some were begun during live painting exhibitions (for example at Beaverton Arts Mix on behalf of the Washington County Open Studios Tour or at Catherine Bede Gallery in Hillsboro)  but most were painted alone in my studio. I like to work in silence so I can “listen” to the paintings as I work.

I begin these by finger painting in black paint onto a black piece of paper — using my left hand. Then I flip that paper over and press it against the plywood so it leaves a print. The print is just a random squiggly mark, but I use that to begin looking for a face or an eye or perhaps many eyes. I paint in just black and white using only two small brushes — and my hands. I add details with black and white oil pastel crayons and an ordinary #2 pencil. The painting progresses organically with context and perhaps text being added. I continue working until the subject resolves itself — that’s when I finally know the title.

Every painting is its own world created using just black and white acrylic paint, black and white oil pastel crayons, plus an ordinary #2 pencil. They are painted on thin plywood, and sometimes the wood peeks through the paint. The plywood also led to the name for the series — as in Super Ply(wood).

Behind the scenes, I have also learned to use a power chop saw and compressor (this terrifies me) and nail gun so I can cradle the boards. This essentially means the back is reinforced to prevent warping. I also attach d-rings and a hanging wire so the paintings are gallery-ready.

In order to transport so many paintings at one time, I put little felt bumpers on the back corners and then stacked them up. Then I lashed them together with bungee cords. The SuperPly paintings made tidy stacks because they are all the same size: 16″ wide and 24″ high.

This is how they looked waiting to be loaded in the car.

Finally, I added a few “friends” to add a pop of color to the show and to bracket the Super Ply paintings on that lovely long wall. I hope you enjoy the show!

ps Yes! These are available — the original paintings as well as PRINTS!!!!  We are adding paintings little by little. The Super Ply paintings are fabulous as prints, I test ordered one on the least expensive paper and it is great. If you don’t see your favorite, please let me know and I will add it. Here is my artspan site. 

2015 Washington County Studio Tour in Oregon

You are invited! Come visit my studio this October  17 & 18, 2015 and see where/how the sausage  art gets  made … and the magic happens.  The tour map and directions are included with my artist directory listing at  Barbara Martin Artist Washington County Open Studio…  With over 40 artists and galleries participating the tour should be fantastic this year!

Artists who participate in the tour are supposed to offer demonstrations. I’ll be mixing it up this time by working in my typical fashion which involves:  noodling about, lots of coffee breaks and yard wandering, visits to the pond and bottle garden, and occasionally some deeply focused art making in a frenzy of creativity.

Depending on the weather and my mood and any special requests, I may be demonstrating one, some or all of the following:

  • encaustic aka painting with HOT WAX  and a torch or heat gun
  • acrylic painting on a BIG CANVAS
  • collaging with fussy cut little paper bits and ephemera
  • slinging alcohol inks at Yupo
  • attempting assemblage of a found-glass -sculpture-tower  which involves scary-to-me power tools and truly may or may not work out

Or whatever is “hot” on my brain that day.  I am process oriented with my art. I love to play around, try stuff, have fun  and experiment — and sometimes make some nice looking art! I’d love to have you join me in the studio on the tour!

Mark your calendar for the third weekend in October, the 17th and 18th, 2015.  Hours are 11-5.  Hope you can swing by. It’s gonna be great!

ps Yes, there will be chocolate involved.




F is for Fire Truck

fire truckThis vintage Fisher Price fire truck toy holds court over my kitchen. It’s a friendly reminder to practice staying focused and organized. We can only do one thing at a time. When I split my time, attention and energy in too many directions, my goals slither away, almost unnoticed.

Contrast that with a fire truck responding to a fire in a direct and speedy way. The fire fighting team gets there fast and does the job. They’ve practiced and trained. They know what to do and how to do it. A well-oiled machine, and with heart, too.

The key: a clear goal plus skilled performance.

No time wasted deciding what to do next, how to do it,  whether or not to do it. They just do what needs to be done. They put out fires, but they are not “putting out fires” in their own procedures. They are not distracted by avoidable miss-steps!

I’m using the little truck as inspiration for devising my own systems to keep up with show schedules, studio time, classes, events, drawing practice, record keeping. I am a great systems planner in my head; too often the implementation stays in my head, too.

The problem: some days I have so many details spinning in the air that it feels like I am spinning, too.

The solution: tighter focus and immediate, small, concrete steps.

I stop, catch my breath and wonder:

If I were Driverdude what do I need to do right now to get ready for this next thing – and the two after that?

And, with a nod to the fire truck:

What do I need to remember about this for next time – to make it easier on myself?

Like a secret friend, the little driver dude with the diabolical grin is so encouraging. He never makes me feel stupid, he just shakes his head from side to side and says: “Try it again, practice makes perfect.” Which is fine because I am not a fire fighter putting my life and the lives of others in harm’s way to save lives, I am an artist. Sometimes I even get to ring the bell. 🙂

Yes! The bell still rings clearly, the hose moves, the ladder pulls out and around and up and over, his head swivels. Push the truck across the table and it says “Bingbingbing!” while his head pops side to side. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. #ArtistsAreKidsAtHeart

This is a post in the April AtoZChallenge series. Sign up for updates and never miss a letter.

Experimental Encaustic

detail 2 sm panelsSome of my artist friends are using encaustic in their work. Encaustic is a rich mixture of beeswax and resin and (often) pigment.  To create an image, the artist builds up a series of thin but luxurious layers of wax, resulting in a completed piece with a lovely translucent quality, a gentle gleam, and potentially myriad other intriguing effects. This method has been used to create art for centuries.

As much as I admire and appreciate the real thing, the photo above (please click on it TWICE to see maximum detail) shows detail from two small panels I recently created in the “encaustic style” but using my own “faux-caustic” methods.  This came about because when I recently attended a hands-on workshop to learn about working with this magical medium, I came away at the end of the day with several attractive pieces, searing lungs and a pounding headache. Based on that toxic experience, I decided to put down the heat gun. I think encaustic should only be done under perfect ventilation conditions — meaning outdoors in the summertime!

But as an intrepid member of the International Society of Experimental Artists, I want to create my own recipe/technique for make “faux-caustic” pieces. Instead of wax and resin, I am using a “secret” combination of professional quality acrylic mediums.

Although good ventilation is required for these as it is with most any art materials, I am not getting headaches or burning sensations in my lungs working on these pieces.  And I am getting some interesting results. The process is not perfected (yet) but it’s fascinating to see what is developing in the studio.

Here is a sneak-peek photo.  (Click on it to make it bigger.) The surface is glossier than true encaustic would be — even with a good buffing encaustic is not really high gloss like this — but you can see some of the amazing encaustic-like surface texture and encapsulation effect I am already achieving.

If you would like to see a completed piece using the same palette as shown in the photo, I am currently showing the abstract “Barcelona” (12″x12″ acrylic on cradled wood panel) at Sequoia Gallery and Studios in Hillsboro, Oregon.  Early public feedback has been positive and one viewer remarked how it is reminiscent of a ceramic tile, which I find fascinating.  What do you think, do you like the “look” of that surface?

This is the “E” post, #5 in the April A-to-Z-Challenge. Subscribe to email updates and never miss a letter! 🙂